Getting Happy... when you wish you were dead
Even though I was arrested around ten a.m., it turns out there wasn't time enough to get me before a judge yesterday. So I spent the night in jail.
"Time for court." The officer was standing in the hallway outside the cell block.
All jails are different I suppose. In this one, each cell block has three cells with two bunks and a toilet. Then there is a common area with the hallway in front of the cells, a steel table with four attached seats, the toilet, a shower stall, television above the shower, and a telephone next to the entry door. I walked into the hallway outside the cell block to stand facing the officer.
"Turn around and face the wall."
He had a set of shackles in his hands. In case you've never seen a prison film, shackles are two sets of handcuffs. One set goes on your ankles, and one goes on your wrists. Both sets have about sixteen inches of chain, so you can move but not easily. Those two chains are then connected by a third chain. The only way you can walk is by holding your hands at your waist. Otherwise, the chain between your ankles is too tight to let you walk.
"Lift your left foot." The first shackle is put around my ankle.
"Lift your right foot." The second shackle clicks into place.
"Turn around." An easier thing to say than do at this point. The guard holds the other end of the shackles down low so I don't have to worry about tripping over the chain.
"Hold out your hands." First one shackle, then the other, is closed around my wrists.
"Is there a reason why I'm being treated like some kind of dangerous criminal?"
"It's standard procedure. We use these on everyone."
Off we go to the courtroom. There were three of us being arraigned at the same time. I don't remember anything about the men with me other than that they seemed to know what they were doing. I later learned that people in Batterdrum County who become involved with the police, tend to end up staying involved with the police; almost like a cottage industry.
The judge ended up setting bail at one hundred dollars. I wasn't especially happy but figured I'd be out of jail in an hour or so.
On the way back to the jail cells, I asked the guard "So how can this bail be paid? Does it have to be cash, or can it be by bank card?"
"You can use anything to pay it except a cheque. Credit card, debit card, cash are all okay."
"Cool. I have a credit card in my wallet. How do I get this done?" I was, understandably, a little excited about being able to get out of jail.
"Where's your wallet? He asked.
"With all my stuff in the locker they gave me."
"Oh. That presents a little bit of difficulty," he said with concern in his voice. He seemed genuinely bothered.
"Why? What's the problem?"
"Well... You can't have access to what's in your locker until you're released, and we can't get anything out of it for you."
It seems like an awful joke, I know; almost a Keystone Kops situation. I was free to go as soon as I posted one hundred dollars bail. All I needed was my wallet, but the rules genuinely prohibited me from having access to my wallet.
It was no joke that I remained in jail until December 10th because of those rules.